Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Get your dancing shoes-it's time for Spin class

I've taken spin classes for a long time. I love them. Spin class, for those of you who don't know, is a class on a stationary bike that simulates a road bike. These classes are usually held in a gym and last about an hour. Overall, it's an excellent workout.

I recently decided that I need more cardio in my life and I'm not ready to really start running, so I wanted to look into spinning classes here. I googled it and came up with nothing-but I knew there were gyms that offered it (I toured one when I was waiting for the Diaso to open one day waaaay back in August). So I asked a Korean staff person at my school too search for it in Korean on Naver. Naver is a Korean search engine. The search resulted in tons of gyms around my dong (neighborhood). We decided that "Hello Gym" in Miegum seemed promising. We called and got the details: they have spin classes at 11am, 7pm and 8pm M-F. And the cost for a 6 month membership (with a foreigner discount) averaged out to about $80 per month. I've finally adjusted a little and only declared "I paid $9 a month for Ballys!" two times-so I'm getting better, but still don't get me started on the price of watermelon.

I showed up for my first class last Friday. I got there a little early to talk to the manager and get a tour. Everyone there wears a Hello Gym uniform (I found out later, this is a "service" and you can leave it there and they launder it!). I got a bike in the front row, not by choice, but becuase the class was already filling up.

Looks like a regular spin set up, right?

Then the class starts. It's normal during the stretching part. Then they kill the lights and turn on THE DISCO LIGHTS. Let me tell you, during that class on Friday, all I could think about was how can I run to the locker room and get my phone to record this? I held back, finished the class and went back on Monday. 

I present to you Korean spin class

This is the spectacular light show-it's like this for the entire class:

Each song has a dance that goes with it. I tried to get as many different songs/clips recorded as I could. The whole time I was worried they would yell at me to leave or smash my phone. Fortunately none of that happened. I did drop my phone on the floor twice during the class while I was trying to be discreet. To really appreciate the awesomeness of Korean spin class, you should watch all the clips. It's hard to miss the dramatic choreography-head to the side, down, up, blowing kisses-am I coordinated enough for this? Probably not, but I still got in a good workout.

This is the longest clip but it is, by far, the best clip. Just watch his shoulders!

There you have it, the best workout class in the world. What I am going to do this summer when I take plain spin in America-so boring! At least I won't totally strain my neck from sneezing after a class like I did last night.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Go Bears!

We've heard nothing but good things about Korean baseball. Korean's love baseball and there are several professional teams around Korea. I was told that we like the Dooson Bears because they are from the area where we work, Gangnam. Dooson is a massive chaebol (what's that you ask? Well, I asked and Jim explains that a 'chaebol' is a South Korean conglomerate: i.e. Samsung, Hyundai, LG.  In fact, Dooson was rated 4th in the "World's best companies 2009" by Business Week. So there. Dooson is huge).

We went to the game with friends from my school. Jim and the kids met up with us and we took the staff bus from my school to Katie's house and then walked to the subway. Their apartment is only 2 subway stops from the stadium.

The games are very entertaining. There is some sort of dancing or cheer being led at almost all times. Here's a sample of the dancers:
 Here's a sample of the guy who leads cheers:

I like this sign showing which restroom is the ladies room.
Stadium food! This the "love set":
large caramel popcorn and 2 sodas for $8

Jim and I have phones that come with a
little antenna so you can watch TV. Here's Jim watching the
game that is also in front of him.

This is another ballpark treat. So they make a waffle, cut
it in half, put a cream cheese/whipped cream kind of something
in the middle and make a sandwich. Then they roll it in
cookie crumbs. Delicious!

After you finish the "love set" you can use the bucket as a hat.
If you like greasy hair.

More stadium food: Spicy ramen with egg

It's the Dooson bear!!!
It's the Dooson Bear again!
The game was good and the weather was perfect! It was a late night for a school night, but it was totally worth it.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Hongdae Free Market

I've been wanting to go to the Hongdae Free Market market all year and finally everything fell into place. Today was a perfect day for the market, it was sunny and warm and we didn't have any plans. This market is small and it's mostly local artists selling their art. It is amazing. I want to go every Saturday.

The kids and I picked up Leanne and Katie near Gangnam. Leanne and I are getting better at navigating and we made it all the way to Hongdae (and across the Han River, which is kind of a big deal) without getting lost at all. We found parking on the street and started walking toward the market.
Hongdae is a touristy place, so of course we were
able to get directions
 and a map from these ladies

Here are some examples of what was being sold there today:

This is WooHee. She draws cool pictures of owls. 
I bought some for our bedroom
This guy was selling awesome leather accessories. 
I bought this cuff from him (below)

wind chimes
live music
About a quarter of the sellers at the market are people drawing portraits. Some are characatures, but some are really nice portraits. I found this woman  who drew very colorful pictures on either pages from books or sheet music and the pictures are very cute. 
camera was being weird, so you get the vertical view, sorry.
Ruby is the one in the pink, August is in the middle, Grace is in blue

Our friends Nalisha and Jay are getting married this summer. I have been looking for something nice to get them. When I saw these lovely portraits-again portraits, NOT characatures-I thought this would make a really nice gift. I thought this guy had the nicest portraits (look closely, those look nice, don't they?)

 I checked with him and he said to check in again in an hour. An hour later, there was a line of people for him. A bilingual person in line translated for me that it would only be 30 minutes more. There was no waiting list, you just had to get in line. I waited for 30 minutes and when it was my turn, I gave him my phone with this picture on it:
Aren't Jay and Nalisha a nice looking couple?
Well, here's their portrait:

Jay and Nalisha 4eva
Not bad-for a characature. He asked me what message I wanted him to write on it. I wanted it to say something silly in Korean and tell them it meant something nice. Katie and I discussed it and decided on "I hope you have one million babies". We called Katie's TA, Hannah, for some translation. As you can see (since there is no message) that conversation was confusing to both Hannah and the artist. Hannah talked to the artist who told her that he had painted a picture of me and my husband. So there was a lot lost in translation.

I wasn't sure how to give this to them. It's not the lovely gift I'd imagined, I considered not giving it to them at all, but lucky for me, right after we dropped Leanne off at the subway at Sunae, we saw Jay and Nalisha walking down the sidewalk. Since it's Korea, I just put the hazards on, parked the car in the street and told them the hilariously disappointing story. I will wrap this up for them and the next time they're at the carnival they can skip the characature drawing because they already have one.

I hate to sound so negative, it was just a lot of work for a result that I wasn't expecting. Overall, though, we had a great time and I can't wait to go back.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Goodmorning Hill Gets a Makeover!

Things are changing! Spring is here!

For a few weeks, there were pictures posted in the elevator of our building. Now, there are usually things posted in the elevator. They clip things in to a clipboard that says "Information". It's a tease-the actual information is in Korean. The pictures though, were obvious. There were 2 computer generated pictures of our building. One picture was the same colors as the current (various tans) the second was new and exciting (various grays). I was thinking there would be an HOA meeting or something that I would not be involved in, so I just crossed my fingers that I wasn't the only one ready for the better choice. But I was wrong! My vote did count.

One Sunday, we were at home and there was a knock at the door. Ever since security was called on our noisy children waaaaay back in August, every time the doorbell rings, I'm sure it's happening again. I answered the door anyway and there was a security guard with a clipboard. He had the two pictures-boring and not boring. Fortunately "no" and "yes" are two of the 5 Korean words I know. So I pointed to the less good one and said "아니오" and I pointed to the nice one and said, "!" It turns out my vote won!

The exciting part is watching the painters do their work. They are on a rope and pulley system-with regular, cotton rope-not climbing rope-and a wooden seat. When you look at these pictures I want you to know that these buildings are all 25 stories high and that we are on the 15th floor.

Here he comes

Getting closer

almost here


He's here!

Good work

There he goes

They put large plastic covers on the cars parked below


Here he is in action:

Like I said, spring is here! There are flowers everywhere. It's so beautiful.